Jim Andrews

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New Zealand Tornado Kills Three

December 6, 2012; 7:58 AM ET

A path of destruction has cut Auckland after a rare twister tore through New Zealand's biggest city on Thursday.

At least three people were killed and another seven were injured, the New Zealand Herald website said.

Another tornado struck Hamurana, near Rotorua.

In both sites, witnesses told of the powerful swirling winds, roaring noise and blinding rain, as well as the damage to homes, trees and power lines.

The Auckland storm hit a construction site in the suburban town of Hobsonville. Two of those killed were believed to be workers at the site, according to the Herald. A third victim was apparently struck by a falling tree.

At least 250 people were displaced as 150 homes were deemed "uninhabitable."

Near Rotorua, 40 children and 13 adults were evacuated from a school.

The outbreak of thunderstorms also unleashed torrential rain that triggered surface flooding across greater Auckland. Weather data accessed by AccuWeather.com showed rainfall of 1.8 inches at the Auckland airport.

The Auckland tornado was the second deadly twister to strike the region in less than two years. A May 3, 2011, tornado left one person dead in the Auckland suburb of Albany.

There was also a tornado west of Auckland in September 2011.

While about 20 to 30 tornadoes touch down each year in New Zealand, tornado fatalities are rare, the Herald said.

Video credit: YouTube.com/dashboardnewsonline

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